South Africa’s own Black Friday was first introduced to consumers in 2012. At that time, it was the pickpockets and thieves that had a field day in the stores and malls, as they took advantage of excited shoppers letting their guard down in the scrum for a bargain. Fast forward to 2023, we have embraced online shopping shifting the threat from pickpockets to hackers, cybercriminals and scammers that are getting ready to pounce on Friday 24 November.
Originating in the USA, Black Friday falls on the day after Thanksgiving, enticing people to indulge in the offers of massive discounts on everything from groceries to clothing and high-value white goods. As South Africans get ready to search and click on e-commerce sites, many of which are already promoting their Black Friday to Cyber Monday discounts, it’s crucial to pause and consider how we can all stay safe online.
Let's take a moment to review best practices for online security during this period, ensuring a safe and enjoyable shopping experience.
Don't shop on open Wi-Fi networks
Shopping online while connected to public Wi-Fi exposes consumers to the risk of hackers who exploit the open nature of the network, enabling them to access banking and payment card details. To safeguard your sensitive information, opt to shop from the security of your home or a trusted network.
S is for secure
Ensure the website you are shopping on is prefixed by "https" rather than just "http." The 's' signifies a security certificate and a secure connection with encrypted data which is crucial in the protection of your information. Be cautious and steer clear of unsecured sites to protect your personal and financial data.
The names of our children, pets, and other personal information often find their way onto our social media pages, providing cybercriminals with clues to our passwords. Enhance your online security by using unique passwords for your banking apps and other sensitive sites. Create passwords that incorporate a mix of characters, numbers, upper- and lower-case letters, and, most importantly, make them random. Avoid making it easy for hackers by refraining from using easily guessable information.
Answering additional security questions
Some hackers may ask you to answer additional security questions during transactions. Ensure you do not disclose any personal details including account numbers, passwords, PINS or random number verifications (RVNs) which hackers can use to redirect the payment you are making, but which they may also store and use fraudulently in future.
Too good to be true
While Black Friday offers genuine bargains, if an offer seems outrageously unrealistic, it may be a scam. A R25 000 flat screen television is unlikely to be knocked as far down as R1 000 and similarly, a luxury watch or item of jewellery selling at way under their real value is an unlikely scenario. Always verify the authenticity of the offer before making a purchase.
Don't click on any unknown links
Black Friday offers may be presented through online ads or social media posts, accompanied by a link for you to click and make a purchase. Never click on a link unless it's from a trusted source, as it could be a phishing site attempting to intercept your personal and banking details. Phishing sites often include spelling and grammatical errors and some, claiming to belong to reputable retailers may use different fonts from the actual store, so be sure to scrutinise every offer for validity and authenticity.
For online payments, always use a payment portal rather than paying directly on the vendor's site. Payment portals offer additional security measures, including random number verifications and multi-step authentication.
Your transaction was unsuccessful
One scam involves hackers identifying a payment and calling you and insisting it was unsuccessful. Before making a second payment, verify with your bank whether the original transaction went through. These scam calls are often made from unknown caller numbers, with ‘no called ID’ or from random cell phone numbers, and never from your bank’s call centre, so hang up immediately.
Use Scan to Pay whenever possible
Scan to Pay is a safe, secure, contactless method of payment, using only a mobile device and a vendor’s QR code, eliminating the need to store card details on payment sites and the necessity to memorise multiple passwords and PINs. QR codes expire after a certain time meaning they cannot be stored and reused by cyber criminals. Scan-to-pay systems utilise strong encryption protocols, preventing unauthorised access and protecting sensitive customer data, which instead of being transmitted via traditional channels is sent using a unique token that keeps your payment data secure from interception or compromise.
In addition, each Scan to Pay transaction demands your authentication via AMT or 3D secure, ensuring that every payment is authorised only by you.
Scan to Pay systems incorporate robust fraud detection mechanisms and monitoring systems, leveraging cutting-edge AI algorithms to identify and stop fraudulent activity, providing customers with the knowledge that they don’t have to second guess themselves or the process.
Scan to Pay powered by Ukheshe is the largest QR ecosystem in South Africa, tried and tested by thousands of merchants and millions of consumers consumer,s and is the QR payment platform of choice of more than 500 000 vendors, 14 banks and fintech companies and 94 payment service providers.
Avoid falling into payment traps and being scammed this Black Friday by making smart payment choices.